Incheon International Airport is considered an international hub for connecting flights and those airlines’ operations, and Incheon Immigration Office is responsible for the annual inspection of more than 22 million passenger arrivals and departures. The airport, at time of writing, is typically well-ranked in customer and industry surveys. In 2004, however, Incheon’s customer satisfaction was lower than other major airports, including Hong Kong International Airport on Chek Lap Kok Island (ranked first) and Changi Airport in Singapore (ranked fifth)—mainly because of the long waits at security inspection. These waits negatively affected the efficiency of airport operations and the experience of travelers at the airport. Incheon’s low ranking pushed the Korean government—particularly the Ministry of Justice, which oversaw the immigration and security processes at the airport—to look at immigration inspection for more effective ways to meet two primary requirements: (a) promoting security and efficiency and (b) establishing cooperation among various agencies.
This case study, and an associated delivery note adapted from the original case study, examine how the Incheon Immigration Office was ultimately able to achieve large gains in efficiency.